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Boko Haram confirms slaughtering 6 “traitors”, threatens more “executions” in Maiduguri, Borno State

On 2 February, a spokesman for the militant Islamist sect, Boko Haram, confirmed that it was his group that killed the six men slaughtered on the night of Wednesday 1 February, in Maiduguri, capital of Borno State.

The six men were killed in the Shehuri north area of the city, by assailants who trailed them to their houses around midnight and slaughtered them with knives. In a statement following the killings, the spokesman of the military Joint Task Force (JTF), Lt Col Hassan Mohammed, had said preliminary investigations revealed the men were “slaughtered by persons suspected to be their fellow sect members”. He had also suggested that the killings “may have been as a result of division among sect members”.

In a telephone interview with some journalists in Maiduguri, the Boko Haram spokesman who identified himself as Abul Qaqa, confirmed the JTF’s revelation. He said the six men were slaughtered because they were among the traitors who betrayed 11 members of the sect, leading to their elimination by JTF four days earlier.

He further disclosed that the six men slaughtered were only part of a longer list of persons whom the group plans to eliminate. He said: “We have earmarked 30 of them for execution because they betrayed our group”.

It will be recalled that on 28 January, 11 members of Boko Haram were killed by JTF in Maiduguri. In the wake of those killings, the victims’ families had claimed that the men killed were not members of the militant sect, alleging human rights violations and demanding a probe.

The confirmation by the Boko Haram spokesman seems to have put paid to those denials and demands. It also seems to confirm the JTF’s suspicion of a feud within some members of the sect. It thus raises fears of further factional killings within the group in Maiduguri.

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Boko Haram splits?: Splinter group claims distinct identity, declares Ramadan ceasefire

On 20 July, a group identifying itself as Yusufiyya Islamic Movement (YIM) emerged from the ranks of the militant Islamist group, widely known as Boko Haram, which is currently locked in battle with Nigerian military and other security operatives in Maiduguri, capital of Borno State.

In an unsigned two-page leaflet distributed at various wards and in the Post Office area of Maiduguri, the group condemned all attacks on homes and places of worship, which it said were carried out by “people with evil motives” who had “infiltrated our genuine struggle”. It also declared a unilateral ceasefire during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which, for this year, is scheduled to start around 1 August.

In its leaflet, the group stated that: “The Yusufiyya Movement has come to mean different things to different people in the last few months. This confusion and misinterpretation have made it necessary for us to come out publicly with the clear truth with regards to our concept, struggle, aim and ultimate objective”. The statement said the clarification had also become necessary “in the light of genuine concern by individuals and groups to the mass suffering of innocent citizens caught in the crossfire between our members and the Nigerian troops”.

Providing the background to its emergence, the group said it was saddened by the July 2009 killing of its leader, Mohammed Yusuf, and the destruction and confiscation of members’ landed and moveable property in Maiduguri. It said it therefore resolved “to wage a struggle between justice and injustice, between truth and falsehood, right against wrong”.

The group said: “Ours is a clear fight for the blood of our founder, Mohammed Yusuf, and other leaders who were slain in cold blood by (former Borno State governor) Ali Modu Sheriff, the former Borno State Commissioner of Police and the late (President) Umaru Musa Yar’Adua”. It noted that “Yar’Adua has since been seized by Allah” in an answer to the sect’s prayer for divine support against his aggression.

The group further stated that in prosecuting its campaign, it had become concerned that “some people with evil motives have infiltrated our genuine struggle with a false Holy War that is outright un-Islamic”. It said it had therefore become necessary to “distance our group from all the bombings targeted at civilians and other establishments and equally condemn them and pray that Allah exposes those who perpetrated them and attributed them to us”.

The statement said the public needed to know that YIM is not an organisation of heartless terrorists, arsonists or robbers, which those other elements who had infiltrated the group with a diabolical agenda were portraying it to be.

Declaring the group’s confidence of victory in its struggle, the statement called on those it had referred to as “evil” infiltrators to desist from their indiscriminate acts of violence, “failing which we shall have no option than to expose and hunt them”.

The group finally said:  “We have resolved to temporarily halt our fight against the assassination of our leaders in compliance with the prohibition of fighting in the holy month of Ramadan”.

There are no indications as to the identities of those leading this group. Boko Haram had always been a shadowy organisation and the leaflet distinguishing YIM from the wider group was not signed by anyone. However, there had been some earlier indications of cracks within the group.

Significantly, on 14 June, the Deputy Governor of the Borno State, Alhaji Zanna Mustapha, had disclosed that Boko Haram had three factions, and that one of the factions had shown willingness to commence talks. It has not been ascertained whether YIM was one of the three factions the deputy governor was referring to, or whether this is an entirely new development.

There has also been no reaction from Boko Haram’s usual spokesman, Abu Zaid.

Boko Haram: Borno State government reports progress towards talks

On 14 June, the Borno State Government reported that it was making progress towards the proposed talks with the militant Islamist group, Boko Haram, as one faction of the sect had indicated interest in dialogue.

Speaking to journalists in Maiduguri, the Deputy Governor of the state, Alhaji Zanna Mustapha, said the state government was also putting everything in place to end the sect’s attacks on innocent citizens, citing its donation of 10 Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs) to the police.

The deputy governor revealed that Boko Haram currently has three factions, and that this had made it difficult to know who is who among them. However, he said though only one of the factions had yet shown willingness to commence talks, the state government would still leave the door open for the others to join.

The Deputy Governor said the government’s offer of dialogue was borne out of its interest in restoring peace and harmony to the state and should not be misconstrued as a sign of weakness. For this reason, he said, the government will not accept some unreasonable conditions that were recently publicized by unidentified persons claiming to be Boko Haram.

He stated that in going into talks with Boko Haram, the government will be guided by the interests of the majority of the people of the state, and not by some difficult conditions dictated by the fundamentalists. Emphasizing that the dialogue will have to be on the government’s terms, not those of Boko Haram, he reassured the people of the state that the government will not do anything that will further jeopardise their security.

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